FBI agents early Friday raided the homes and offices of several Tennessee state Republican lawmakers, the Tennessean reports.
Tim Naftali: “Will Trump be the first to test the constitutionality of a self-pardon, just as he has tested the limits of so many other constraints on presidential power? Precedent has never mattered to him. He has reportedly been asking aides about the possibility of a self-pardon since 2017. Unlike Nixon, he can’t even hope for a pardon from his immediate successor. But neither can he count on the Supreme Court to uphold a self-pardon; in summarily dismissing Trump’s effort to overturn the election, the justices reminded him that a president should not count on the support of his appointees.”
“The Framers couldn’t imagine a Congress failing to impeach and remove a corrupt president. Chief Justice Taft couldn’t imagine a president abusing the pardon power, and he couldn’t imagine the circumstances under which a president would pardon himself. Mary Lawton couldn’t imagine that the Constitution would allow a president to be the judge in his own case.”
“But in the final days of the presidency of Donald Trump, very little seems unimaginable anymore.”
“He faces up to five years in prison in part because of what in retrospect seems to have been a dumb mistake. Broidy voluntarily gave the FBI emails from his and his wife’s accounts while seeking the bureau’s assistance in pursuing hackers who he claimed had stolen this material and leaked damaging details about his business dealings to the press.”
“According to a just-unsealed ruling issued in June 2018 by Beryl Howell, the chief US District Judge in Washington, DC, nearly 1,400 pages of emails that Broidy provided to the FBI were subsequently used by the bureau in the investigation that led to Broidy’s guilty plea. Following a secretive legal process, Howell ruled that Broidy had surrendered the material to the FBI and after doing that—when the bureau wanted to exploit the documents for an investigation of Broidy himself—could no longer claim the information was covered by attorney-client privilege or spousal privilege.”
“Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, one of President Trump’s longest-serving cabinet members, has been under investigation for most of his tenure in office, according to a report issued by the inspector general of the commerce department,” Forbes reports.
“The report both revealed the investigation and published its findings. It concluded that Ross, who has served as commerce secretary since Trump’s first year in office, violated a federal regulation by failing to avoid the appearance of ethical and legal breaches. The report cleared him on other matters, including whether he lied to federal officials and engaged in insider trading.”
“The Justice Department is investigating a potential crime related to funneling money to the White House or related political committee in exchange for a presidential pardon,” CNN reports.
“The case is the latest legal twist in the waning days of President Trump’s administration after several of his top advisers have been convicted of federal criminal charges and as the possibility rises of Trump giving pardons to those who’ve been loyal to him.”
Renato Mariotti: “Exchanging anything of value for an official act, such as granting a pardon, is a federal crime.”
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy “will make history on Monday afternoon when he goes on trial accused of corruption and influence peddling for allegedly trying to bribe a judge for information,” The Guardian reports.
“FBI agents arrested Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld (D) Thursday morning on federal charges accusing him of accepting bribes in exchange for favorable votes on development deals,” the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
“Sittenfeld, a Democrat and the presumptive front-runner in next year’s mayoral election, was arrested around 9:30 a.m.”
“The FBI is investigating allegations that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) broke the law in using his office to benefit a wealthy donor,” the AP reports.
“Confirmation of the criminal probe marks mounting legal peril for Paxton, who’s denied wrongdoing and refused calls for his resignation since his top deputies reported him to federal authorities at the end of September.”
“FBI agents arrested Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Pastor (R) early Tuesday in what authorities describe as a brazen bribery scheme involving payoffs for help with city development projects,” the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
“Federal prosecutors say Pastor, a Republican who joined council in January 2018, began soliciting money from developers within months of taking office and, in some instances, accepted bags of cash in return for his vote or other favorable treatment.”
Ex-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder (R) will likely win re-election, in spite of being arrested on a charge that he oversaw the largest bribery scheme in Ohio history, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
Senior officials tell CNN they are alarmed at White House pressure to grant what would essentially be a no-bid contract to lease the Department of Defense’s mid-band spectrum — premium real estate for the booming and lucrative 5G market — to Rivada Networks, a company in which prominent Republicans and supporters of President Trump have investments.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) put out a statement calling on his former boss Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) to resign immediately after allegations of bribery and abuse of his office.
“Top aides of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) have asked federal law enforcement authorities to investigate allegations of improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential crimes against the state’s top lawyer,” the Austin American Statesman reports.
“Their decisions to report possible illegal activity involving their employer represents a stunning development in an agency that prizes loyalty, particularly from within Paxton’s inner circle. It places a renewed spotlight on Paxton, who is already under indictment for alleged securities fraud.”
Paxton is also the co-chair of Lawyers for Trump.
“Donald Trump’s demoted campaign boss Brad Parscale is under investigation for ‘stealing’ between $25-$40 million from Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign,” the Daily Mail reports.
“The 44-year-old is also being investigated for ‘pocketing’ nearly another $10 million from the Republican National Committee.”
Meanwhile, Business Insider reports that “before Parscale’s meltdown on Sunday that landed him in police custody, his spending as a top Trump campaign official had been under scrutiny.”
“It’s unclear whether a campaign-spending audit and scrutiny over his luxurious purchases precipitated Parscale’s latest troubles.”
A new report says President Trump has engaged in “more than 3,400 conflicts of interest since taking office.”
Former Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) is under federal investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly spending campaign money on personal trips and vacations for her and her family, CBS Miami reports.
“In recent weeks, former members of her staff have been subpoenaed to either provide records or appear before a grand jury regarding tens of thousands of dollars of expenditures by Ros-Lehtinen, including a 2017 trip to Walt Disney World with her children and grandchildren.”
A retired judge appointed to review the Justice Department’s motion to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn said on Friday that calling the agency’s actions “irregular,” which he did in June, “would be a study in understatement,” Axios reports.
Said Judge John Gleeson: “In the United States, Presidents do not orchestrate pressure campaigns to get the Justice Department to drop charges against defendants who have pleaded guilty — twice, before two different judges — and whose guilt is obvious… There is clear evidence that this motion reflects a corrupt and politically motivated favor unworthy of our justice system.”
“Federal prosecutors are preparing to charge longtime GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy in connection with efforts to influence the U.S. government on behalf of foreign interests, a result of a sprawling, years-long investigation that involved a figure who helped raise millions for Donald Trump’s election and the Republican Party,” the Washington Post reports.